My name is Liberty Campbell and I am the Languages KLA Leader at my school in beautiful Manly. Today in 7 minutes I am going to summarise briefly part of the Moreleaps project that I participated in last year through the MLTA. It stands forMentoring and reflecting languages educators and professional standards.
This project kick started with 2 motivating days in Adelaide followed by release time to work with a mentoree on a project based on the standards. In a department such as mine where as part-time staff you are never timetabled off together finding the time to reflect on what you are doing and whether it is really working was a real gift. Once you begin that process, you realise the false economy of not doing it.
We focused on Stage 6 as that is the most problematic group for us. We feel under pressure to push the students to do well, whilst not losing them as they drop out because it it too hard. And then the issue of getting through all the content without actually doing more work for them than they are doing! You make the handouts, the summaries, you mark it, give feedback etc and sometimes it feels like they just paste things in and say they will study it later…So we began positively and brainstormed our ideal class and the qualities they would have, then we discussed the characteristics of our typical classes. And then we made a plan to try and bridge the gap between the two.But in doing so we discovered a few home truths about ourselves. We were saying we wanted students who went off to film festivals, tried to speak in Language all the time and who tried to find great resources themselves. But how much were we doing that? Were we such great role models after all.
The professional standards for accomplished teaching of languages and cultures and the standards for lead teachers are so motivational when you are looking for some direction on how to improve yourself and your students. We chose these 3 standards as the focus of this particular project. The 2nd was especially pertinent to our scenario.
At the Adelaide conference Tony Liddicoat commented “Australia is a monolingual country with a monolingual mindset”. This comment really resonated with me as a teacher at a Catholic boys high school on the northern beaches.The opportunity for sustained and real language was limited for both staff and students in the normal day to day. And even as staff, we tended to speak in English to each other unless we were gossiping and didn’t want others to understand! We were actually using the language to exclude rather than include! What terrible role models! We too were wasting opportunities to use the language.
We made several changes to our praxis, but the most effective one has been this simple email template. We wanted to move away from spending lots of time chasing homestudy tasks and we wanted the boys to be honest with themselves and their parents about how much work they were really doing at home, because in class they are fine.We told them the email was coming in Week 5 but just like climate change for politicians, no one really believes you until the statistics arrive. I sent the email on Friday afternoon and you should have seen the activity on Language Perfect that weekend, and the reading comprehensions that were miraculously handed in on Monday. They needed more specific goals and more frequent feedback on those goals than assessment tasks and reports.It also allows parents to be a more active partner in the process through praise or encouragement as needed.
We wanted our subject to be as familiar to the parents as maths or English so we continued to work the advocacy angle to challenge the monolingual mindset issue. We took a HSIE/Religion and an English teacher on our seniors tour to make them more familiar with the culture so they will feel more comfortable including aspects of it in their KLAs. This has spun off into a Literacy focus week in August to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Year 8 students will attend religion lessons with the visiting Japanese students who come for 10 days at that time. They will spend a lesson teaching each other about religious icons of their culture ie Buddhism/Shintoism & Catholicism. Then they will make origami cranes together that will be used in a liturgy on assembly. All other classes in Stage 4 & 5 will use the weekly literacy focus lessons that will be based on texts on Hiroshima & Nagasaki.
Outsource your work where possible! Young role models are far more effective than “teachers”. We discovered Mitch during our Moreleaps project and had him film himself answering questions about how learning a language had changed his life. We then loaded it on Youtube with his permission and made up a worksheet for our students to do. Mitch is now one of the judges at a local speech contest we enter, so the boys know who he is and have a real connection with him as a person, not a teacher’s made up resource. Joey is a heritage speaker who was great to the other boys and would pop in to our room at recess sometimes and teach difficult kanji words to the boys. He popped in at our open night and the energising influence he had on our top was amazing. The student kept saying it was so good to see Joey again and his desire to be like Joey was reiginited. (No one wants to be like us let’s face it!!)Finally, if you don’t have fabulous ex-students hanging around, steal someone elses. Mark is a graduate from another local highschool who wanted to volunteer until he leaves on the JET program in April. We videod him too so we can use his insights when he is gone but his pespective as a GEN Y was fresh for me eg he talked about using an app on his phone as a dictionary so he could look up words he needed without breaking the flow of the conversation, and others would think you were just checking your messages. So GEN Y!
My time is up but if you ever have any questions about the type of questions we asked the role models etc please feel free to contact me.
More leaps investigation
MORE LEAPSinvestigationLiberty CampbellSt Pauls College, Manly
An opportunity to reflect2 days in Adelaide to reflect on the professional standards for lead teachers of languages & cultures & discuss with others Time to get past the “I don’t have time to do that” – false economy. Taking the time out to make changes Focus on working with others – mentoring relationships
Analysing our situation Focus on the Stage 6 cohort – issues of pushing them without losing them; doing all the work for them What type of students would we like to be teaching? What type of students do we feel we usually teach? Discrepancies between what we say we want and believe in, and what we do.
Defining the project “Lead teachers of languages and cultures have a strong knowledge of contemporary theory, research and practice in language education, in areas including teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment and evaluation, and have a commitment to applying innovations in their own practice and sharing this with others” “They support others in creating a culture of learning in their classrooms/schools that fosters an interest in and engagement with languages and encourages learners to accept responsibility for their own learning” They support others in identifying and selecting appropriate ways of teaching to foster students achievements in learning languages and cultures”
Our situation Australia is a monolingual country with a monolingual mindset Limited opportunity for sustained & real language for students & staff Modelling the attitudes we purport to believe in
So what did we change?In Weeks 2-6 of Term 1, Coleton has improved his vocabulary by 71 wordssince the last report using Language Perfect. He has a score of 178indicating below average use of the site to revise.He has complete 1 out of 5 reading comprehension tasks issued ashomestudy. This indicates below average commitment to reading practiceat home.He has passed 3 out of 8 levels tests (Level 1a and 1b comprising 2 levelsetc) as part of his Communication Portfolio assessment task. He should beaiming to pass 10 levels this term.During the timed writing in class sessions, he has written an average of 100 ji(Japanese letters). He should be working towards writing 150 ji in the 15minutes sessions. Overall this suggests he is working at an average level at this stage of thecourse. This report is not a final assessment or formal report but is merely designedto be a guide for parents and students to recognise how much work theyare doing for the Japanese course at home during any given period of 5weeks. These will be issued twice a term. It is hoped that students will usethese reports to set goals for themselves to improve areas that they havenot concentrated on up to date.
Challenging the monolingualmindset of the school Took a HSIE & an English teacher on Japan tour Set days to use Japanese in the staffroom initially Regular awards on assembly eg 1000 points on LP, newsletters & direct marketing to parents of good language students! Literacy focus week in August Re Hiroshima/Nagasaki & RE liturgy with Japanese visitors
Role models in the community Mitch – dux, school captain, law & commerce degree in finance & Japanese, Tokyo internship Joey – heritage speaker ex-student Mark – University graduate & volunteer VIDEO THEM AS SOON AS YOU FIND THEM!
The process continues… Liberty.firstname.lastname@example.org